The almanac

United Press International

Today is Saturday, Nov. 21, the 325th day of 2009 with 40 to follow.

The moon is waxing. The morning stars are Venus, Mars, Saturn and Mercury. The evening stars are Neptune, Jupiter and Uranus.


Those born on this date are under the sign of Scorpio. They include French author Francois-Marie Arouet, known as Voltaire, in 1694; William Beaumont, pioneer U.S. Army surgeon, in 1785; British steamship company founder Samuel Cunard in 1787; jazz saxophonist Coleman Hawkins in 1904; dancer/actress Eleanor Powell in 1912 ; St. Louis Cardinals batting champion Stan Musial in 1920 (age 89); actor Laurence Luckinbill in 1934 (age 75); actresses Juliet Mills in 1941 (age 67) and Marlo Thomas in 1937 (age 71); TV producer Marcy Carsey and filmmaker/actor Harold Ramis, both in 1944 (age 65); actresses Goldie Hawn in 1945 (age 64), Lorna Luft in 1952 (age 57), and Nicollette Sheridan ("Desperate Housewives") in 1963 (age 46); and former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman in 1966 (age 43).


On this date in history:

In 1783, in Paris, Jean de Rozier and the Marquis d'Arlandes made the first free-flight ascent in a balloon.

In 1877, Thomas Edison announced his invention of the phonograph.


In 1938, Nazi forces occupied western Czechoslovakia and declared its people German citizens.

In 1974, The U.S. Congress passed the Freedom of Information Act over U.S. President Gerald Ford's veto.

In 1985, Jonathan Jay Pollard, a civilian U.S. Navy intelligence analyst and Jewish American, was arrested on charges of illegally passing classified U.S. security information about Arab nations to Israel.

Also in 1985, U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev ended a summit in Switzerland. They promised acceleration of arms-reduction talks.

In 1991, U.S. President George H.W. Bush signed the Civil Rights Act of 1991, making it easier for workers to sue in job discrimination cases.

In 1995, China jailed well-known dissident Wei Jing-sheng and charged him with trying to overthrow the government.

In 2001, a 94-year-old Connecticut woman became the nation's fifth anthrax victim, a death that mystified authorities since she rarely left home. Later it was discovered a family living a mile away had received a letter with anthrax residue on it.

In 2002, a new NATO was born as alliance leaders began the most radical transformation of the military bloc in its 53-year history.

Also in 2002, authorities questioned a senior leader of the al-Qaida terrorist network, a man believed to be the mastermind of the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole in the Yemen harbor.


And, in 2002, an earthquake with a 5.8 reading struck northern Pakistan, killing at least 25 people.

In 2003, U.S. House of Representatives and Senate conferees finished the final version of the approximately $400 billion, 1,000-page bill that would create prescription drug coverage for 42 million Americans on Medicare.

In 2004, Iraqi authorities set Jan. 30, 2005, as the date for the nation's first election since the collapse of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship.

Also in 2004, Chinese authorities sought the cause of a China Eastern Airlines commuter jet crash seconds after takeoff, killing all 53 people on board.

And, Fred Hale Sr., believed to have been the oldest man on Earth, died less than a month before his 114th birthday at a DeWitt, N.Y., nursing home.

In 2005, General Motors Corp., the world's biggest carmaker, announced it was cutting its payroll by 30,000 and shutting nine major plants to stop a financial hemorrhage.

Also in 2005, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon resigned as head of the Likud Party he founded to start a new organization called Kadima.

In 2006, Pierre Gemayel, Lebanon's industry minister and Maronite Christian leader, was assassinated by gunmen while riding in a convoy near Beirut.

Also in 2006, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced a restoration of diplomatic ties with Syria, ending 24 years of strained relations.


In 2007, former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan implicated U.S. President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney in misleading the public on the identity outing of a covert CIA agent.

Also in 2007, University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists reported they had reprogrammed human skin cells to behave as embryonic stem cells. The procedure bypasses ethical controversies caused by destroying embryos or cloning for stem cell research.

In 2008, U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton accepted President-elect Barack Obama's offer to be the secretary of state nominee, although a formal announcement was delayed until after Thanksgiving.

Also in 2008, a measure to extend 13-week unemployment benefits by seven weeks was signed into law by U.S. President George W. Bush.


A thought for the day: it was Voltaire who said, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

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